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Write Now: Creating Urgency in PR & Marketing Copy

Tim Morral

You’ve spent hours researching, drafting and polishing your copy. Mechanically, it’s perfect – it has a compelling headline, great structure and absolutely no typos, misspellings or grammatical faux pas.

But when the piece is published, it goes over like a hunk of Kobe beef at a vegan cooking class. Instead of moving audiences to action, it increases awareness without inspiring readers to take the logical next step, at least not right now.

So what went wrong? The problem could be that your beautifully crafted copy failed to create a sense of urgency with readers.

Urgency is the engine that drives quality writing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a print ad, a white paper or a crime novel – readers need to be motivated to either continue reading or to make a conversion action.

In brand-conscious marketing and PR writing, the challenge is to create a sense of urgency without relying on the kind of cheesy “act now and get two for the price of one” messaging that audiences expect from infomercial pitchmen.

When it’s done right, effective copywriting respects the brand while subtly pushing audiences toward targeted actions. Here’s how . . .

  • Focused Messaging. Unfocused and rambling copy is the kiss of death for conversion rates. With today’s audiences, it’s not enough to launch with a solid hook – you need to move your copy forward by focusing on primary messages instead of taking the reader down rabbit trails that have minimal value for your audience.
  • Strategic Vocabulary. Certain words have the ability to connect with readers on an emotional and motivational level. For example, in old school advertising, phrases like “special” and “limited time” were often used to motivate readers to take immediate action. Although specific terminology varies according to context and objective, it’s important to strategically (and economically) sprinkle “urgent” vocabulary throughout your copy.
  • Clear Conversion Paths. Conversion paths are fundamental in motivating readers to action. From an urgency angle, a clear conversion path involves a lot more than a highly visible call to action. The entire flow and composition of the piece is a conversion path, a step-by-step process that creates urgency, connects with readers and guides audiences toward targeted brand objectives.